We have traced our building back to 1342 when the Worshipful Company of Drapers bought it to use as their first meeting hall.
In 1798, they leased it to George Sandeman, newly arrived from Perthshire to set up a wine company importing barrels of port from Portugal and sherry from Jerez in Spain.
The site in St Swithins Lane was perfectly positioned, close (much closer than it is now) to the banks of the Thames where the barrels of wine were unloaded and rolled up a Roman tunnel that led to the medieval vaults beneath the Sign of The Don and The Don to be bottled and dispatched across the globe. You can see the destination stencils on the bistro walls.
In 2000, after the Sandeman company had returned to their home base in Oporto, Robert and Robyn Wilson, owners of London’s Bleeding Heart Restaurant Group and old friends of George Sandeman converted the building at No 20 St Swithins Lane into The Don Restaurant which justly won the award BMW/Square Meal Award for Best Restaurant in the City.
In 2013 the Wilsons took on a much larger task, and, working closely with English Heritage and the City Conservation restored the adjoining building at No 21 St Swithins and its medieval cellar into The Sign of The Don Bar, Bistro and Private Dining Rooms.
The Sign itself, a colourful glass image of the Don in his famous cape, was returned from Portugal and now hangs, unmissably, outside Number 21.